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Unforeseen Consequences: Canned Water

canned water carbon footprintDo you know that drinking canned water can actually increase your carbon footprint?  Many companies in the food industry have been moving towards sustainable materials in their packaging.  This includes water companies such as Boxed Water is Better and Liquid Death.

Plastic bottles have been a major environmental issue, with over 300 million tons of plastic being produced annually.  In addition, up to 90% of trash on shorelines comes from plastic. Water boxes and cans are being promoted as an easier-to-recycle alternative to plastic.  For example, Liquid Death notes on its website that “plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050.”

However, it’s important to research the potential environmental impact of canned water before making the switch exclusively.  Aluminum is sturdier than plastic and can be reused multiple times.  To make one tonne of aluminum 16 tonnes of carbon are released.  This is more than burning five tonnes of oil.  Of course, the amount of carbon emitted depends on the energy source used to produce the aluminum.  It’s important to point that coal power emits five times as much carbon as hydro power.  Thus, individuals that buy a lot of canned water may actually increase their carbon footprint.

Furthermore, boxed water may require fewer carbon emissions to make.  However, its recycling process is more difficult and can lead to boxes ending up in landfills. While there isn’t a perfect solution for sustainably packaged water, we can reduce our environmental impact by drinking out of a reusable water bottle whenever possible.

Find out how scientists have developed a new technology that allows for water harvesting without consuming energy.

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